Vitamin D is at the forefront of most peopleís minds these days for a number of reasons. Recent media coverage on studies conducted on Vitamin D deficiency and a link to Breast Cancer is probably causing the most stir. The lack of sunshine in these late winter months also cause people to think more about the amount of Vitamin D that they are getting into their system.
Itís important for both men and women to learn about Vitamin D and the benefit it has on the functioning of our bodies. Itís also important to know the truths about Vitamin D sources and how we obtain the right levels in our system.
Vitamin D isnít the same as other vitamins. It isnít just one vitamin but a grouping of nutritional vitamins and acts more like a hormonal agent. The two most important forms of Vitamin D are D3 and D2.
Benefits of Vitamin D
The most talked about benefit of Vitamin D is that it helps with the absorption of calcium making our bones and teeth stronger. Lesser known benefits are that Vitamin D helps with the functioning of our immune system by increasing the action of the bodyís T cells which fight off viruses. Vitamin D has also been linked to help prevent hypertension, autoimmune diseases and even cancer. A recent study in the UK showed that a high percentage of Breast Cancer patients are Vitamin D deficient. There is no link just yet proving that the deficiency is a cause of the cancer or that the cancer causes the deficiency but we do know that Vitamin D strengthens the immune system to help fight viruses.
Where to get it
The best source of Vitamin D is direct sunlight with most professionals agreeing that unprotected is best, meaning without the use of an SPF block. Since only 20 minutes of sun exposure 2 times per week is necessary itís not damaging to the skin. For any prolonged period in the sun the skin should be protected with at least an SPF 15. Other natural means of increasing our Vitamin D intake is through our diet. Although the levels arenít as high in food as they are through sunlight, diet can still be a good source of vitamins. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, beef or calf liver and in mushrooms. It is also found in fortified foods like milk, orange juice, yogurt and cereal. Natural sources of Vitamin D are the best ways to get it into our system but if you still find your levels are low than you may have to turn to supplements to increase your Vitamin D levels.
If you choice to take a supplement form of Vitamin D, the best option is to take the vitamin in liquid form. Multi-vitamins do not contain enough of each of the individual vitamins to make a difference to our vitamin intake. Also, 95 percent of the nutrients found in supplements are not consumed or absorbed properly by the body. Liquid vitamins are absorbed more readily but are still not 100% effective.
Symptoms of Deficiency
Some of the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include muscle discomfort and weakness of the bones. Prolonged deficiency will cause brittle bones, rickets, weight problems, hypo-para-thyroidism, tiredness and depression. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms or feel that you are Vitamin D deficient speak with your Doctor and get tested. A simple blood test is used to determine the level of Vitamin D in your system. If you are deficient your Doctor will speak to you about suitable ways to increase your Vitamin D intake and absorbtion.